Bush and Uribe Undermine UN Security Council
During the first weekend in December, the Bush administration pulled off what amounts to a diplomatic coup d’etat at the United Nations Security Council. But the White House did not carry out this illegitimate seizure of power alone. Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe proved to be an invaluable ally in helping Washington undermine the legitimate decision-making processes of the Security Council with regards to the handling of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction disclosure. Only days before Colombia’s UN Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso blatantly violated an agreement between Security Council members by handing over the Iraqi report to Bush administration officials, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had been in Bogotá discussing the war on terror—and U.S. aid—with President Uribe.
On December 2, Powell flew to Colombia and met with high-ranking Colombian officials including President Uribe. The U.S. public was led to believe that Powell was discussing the U.S. drug war in Colombia and the escalating war on terrorism in the region. The secretary of state promised Uribe a 25 percent increase in U.S. aid for 2003, which would provide Colombia with $537 million for the fiscal year. Powell also promised to push for even more aid under the 2004 budget currently being put together by the Bush administration. Within days it became clear that the Bush White House expected something in return for Powell’s generous promises of U.S. taxpayer dollars: The full cooperation of Colombia’s UN ambassador, who had just assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council, in the illegal seizure of the Iraqi weapons report.
The recent UN resolution governing weapons inspections called for the Iraqi report to be given to all fifteen members of the UN Security Council. But the United States and other permanent members of the Security Council were concerned the report might contain sensitive information regarding methods of manufacturing nuclear weapons that should not be seen by non-nuclear, non-permanent members of the Security Council.
This dilemma was supposedly addressed on Friday December 6, when all fifteen members of the UN Security Council agreed that the weapons inspections team led by Hans Blix would edit out all sensitive information pertaining to the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction before handing the report over to all Security Council members. However, two days later, on December 8, Colombia’s UN ambassador and current president of the Security Council, along with several U.S. diplomats, showed up at Blix’s office and informed him of their decision that the Bush administration would receive the complete unedited report, which the White House would then disseminate to the other four permanent Security Council members. The ten non-permanent members would receive a version edited by Bush administration officials at a later date.
It can be assumed that Colombia’s Ambassador Valdivieso was acting with full authorization from President Uribe, who has once again shown his authoritarian nature. This time the Colombian leader acted in conjunction with President Bush, who has often displayed similar authoritarian tendencies. Given the track record of these two leaders, it should not come as a surprise that they would work together to implement a scheme that violates all existing UN Security Council protocol.
For his part, Uribe will receive even more U.S. military support as he escalates the conflict in Colombia by seeking a military solution to primarily social and economic problems. As for Bush, it is just the latest in a series of statements and actions that clearly illustrate his total lack of respect for the United Nations. For months Bush has made it clear that he intends to overthrow Saddam Hussein with or without UN approval. This latest act of diplomatic piracy also shows that the Bush White House is not beyond undermining the legitimacy of the United Nations in order to fulfill its Iraqi agenda.
There is evidence in the report’s table of contents that the Iraqi disclosure contains information about which countries and corporations have been involved in Iraq’s development of weapons of mass destruction over the years. Such a disclosure detailing past U.S. links to Saddam would prove highly embarrassing to Bush administration officials, especially those who also served in the Reagan administration when Washington gladly provided military technology and aid to the Iraqi regime. The table of contents also suggests that the report contains information about corporations that assisted in developing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program, possibly even after the Gulf War and therefore in direct violation of UN sanctions against Iraq.
It is apparent that Bush administration officials were intent on preventing the disclosure of more than just weapons production techniques as the Security Council’s agreement to let the weapons inspectors edit the report had already addressed that issue. While this latest act of subterfuge by the Bush and Uribe administrations has undermined the legitimacy and effectiveness of the United Nations in international affairs, it also does not bode well for those U.S. and Colombian citizens who are struggling to preserve or establish domestic democratic institutions that respect the rule of law.
This article originally appeared in Colombia Report, an online journal that was published by the Information Network of the Americas (INOTA).